Baptist Temple opened a thrift shop this week during our 40 days of Extreme Love. Traffic was slow the first day (due to inclement weather) but picked up the second day. The thrift shop is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 1 and provides quality used clothes for a nominal donation. Money raised will recycled back into the community through a various proposed ministries including a food pantry.
There are several good reasons for an urban church to operate a thrift shop:
o It recycles items that are useable but might otherwise be thrown into a landfill.
o Reusing items is not only good for the environment but also good financial stewardship.
o It provides under-resourced people access to needed items at a significantly reduced cost.
o “I needed clothes and you clothed me.” Matthew 25:36 (NIV)
o While providing a needed service, it also raises funds that can be used in other benevolence ministries. Thrift shops that are open 5 days a week, average $50,000 in annual income.
o It is good stewardship of utilized space.
o It allows us to engage the community in supporting families and individuals by providing access to quality used clothes and other items in a convenient, dignified manner. Potential customers include the poor, the frugal, people who live on a limited or fixed income, the environmentally conscious and people who want to support the cause. All are welcome, there are no qualifications.
WHY NOT GIVE IT AWAY?
I remember an episode of the TV show “Christy” where Christy, a missionary school teacher in Appalachia, received a shipment of used clothes to distribute among the poor. She sent the children home one with clothes and shoes only to be dismayed the next day when they were returned. The parents were offended by this act which they viewed as an implication that they were in need of pity. A more experienced missionary taught Christy that selling the items at a modest price would get the items distributed while preserving the dignity of the people.
Asking a modest price for these items has several benefits:
o It preserves the dignity of the poor and allows them to participate in the economy.
o It minimizes competition with existing, for-profit, thrift shops that are beneficial to the local economy.
o The funds can be channeled into other ministries for the poor.
o Because people are paying for whatever they take we don’t need to feel “taken advantage of” if they resell it. We still made a profit and the economy benefits twice.
o In hardship cases where someone has been burned out of their home or people who are otherwise homeless, we can issue vouchers for free clothes.